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Health Care

Providers Link To NC HealthConnex

By Ken Little, posted Aug 11, 2017
Novant Health, Duke Health and Carolinas HealthCare System recently signed agreements to connect to NC Health- Connex, the state-designated Health Information Exchange (HIE).

Coastal Connect, a regional HIE that serves southeastern North Carolina, also formally agreed to link to NC HealthConnex.

The agreements connecting patients’ electronic medical records will improve patient care across the region, according to statements from several regional health care providers.

“This connection will add five hospitals and more than 100 data contributors, acute and ambulatory, to the growing statewide HIE,” according to a news release from the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

Created by the General Assembly, NC HealthConnex is the state-operated health information exchange and is managed by the N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority housed within the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

“In addition to hospital and health system integrations, NC HealthConnex is in the process of connecting with hundreds of physician practices, health departments, federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and other ambulatory facilities that use cloud-based and on-premise electronic health/medical record (EHR/EMR) solutions,” the release stated.

Yvonne Hughes, of the Wilmington- based Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange, explained how the HIE link overlaps with the state network.

“As a regional health information exchange, Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange (CCHIE) was established by hospitals and physician practice stakeholders to support patient-centric care transition between care settings to reduce redundant testing and realize efficiencies in workflow for unaffiliated ambulatory and acute health care providers across southeastern North Carolina,” said Hughes, CEO of both Coastal Carolinas Health Alliance and Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange.

Hughes said that since 2011, CCHIE’s Patient Search tool “has empowered our participants by giving them electronic, real-time access to patient records at the point of care, which has supported a better patient experience.”

A Novant Health news release said the partnership to merge patient information “will give providers access to the important patient records they need for improving quality and coordination of care for patients who see providers at both health systems in a secure environment.”

The agreement will “improve the overall patient experience and the health of the communities they serve. This new partnership will allow physicians and clinicians to see relevant portions of patients’ electronic medical records regardless of where they receive care. The partnership is a significant step toward improving efficiencies and cost by reducing readmissions, duplicative work, tests and procedures,” the release stated.

“Sharing records and connecting systems is the next step in the journey to value-based, personalized care for our patients and communities,” Craig Richardville, chief information and analytics officer for Carolinas Health- Care System, said in the release.

“What used to take days or weeks to receive patient information from another health system will now be near instantaneous,” he said.

N.C. Department of Information Technology officials said that in the past year, the total number of unique patients in NC HealthConnex grew by almost 30 percent, totaling close to 3.7 million.

“Coastal Connect HIE’s connection with NC HealthConnex will be another big step in our ongoing collaboration to support improved health care throughout the state,” Hughes said.

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